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Nintendo the Mobile Developer

There have been some very interesting rumours surrounding Nintendo and mobile phones right now. The buzz seemed to be that they may release touch screen games linked to their IPs and making small companion apps, like a pokedex app or something similar. This was quickly nipped in the bud by the company soon after that seed of doubt was planted, stating the mobile platform is better suited to advertise their games.  A shame really, the concept of having Nintendo apps is one that excited me greatly. Mobile games not so much, but support apps, now there’s something worth thinking about.

The big man, Reggie Fills-Amie once had this to say about used game sales: “The consumer wants to keep playing Mario Kart. The consumer wants to keep playing New Super Mario Bros. They want to keep playing Pikmin. So we see that the trade-in frequency on Nintendo content is much less than the industry average – much, much less.” Many of the big publishers have focused on making the quickest buck they can in the shortest time possible; releasing yearly iterations of the same game and sweating it out when the customer buys their game any other way but brand spanking new. Their hand, they feel, has been forced; they have no choice but to implement draconian DRM policies and half complete games to be filled out by DLC. Their content is effectively being stolen, obviously. Nintendo, on the other hand, have always had their own counter measure to the used game market. Releasing good games!

Crazy I know, but all this thinly veiled EA bashing dose have something to do with the topic at hand. Making their games good is just one step in the Nintendo’s overall product design. They want their games to be endlessly playable. It’s why they come with so many modes and secrets. Think about Kid Icarus: Uprising, taken on the length of its single player campaign alone, not that long a game. Then consider the gambling mechanic in its difficulty metre and how it effectively turns each level into its own self-contained roulette wheel of punishment. Then you have the weapon crafting system which adds a Pokémon style compulsion to collecting everything in game, not to mention the way each customised weapon can be tinkered with in the upgrade screen, which itself is a kind of mini-puzzle game. And to top it all off there’s even multiplayer. Though maybe Kid Icarus isn’t the best game to be endlessly playable, seen as more than half an hour on the thing can break wrists in half.

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The point is, Nintendo want you to have the closest possible relationship with your game that can give you. So the question is, what device does the current tech savvy world share its closest relationship with… why, the phone of course! Where I go my phone goes with me, Nintendo often does too with my 3DS fitting comfortably in my pocket, but often isn’t always and that’s a problem. We recently learnt that Nintendo is losing the mobile gaming race to the smart phone and as much as they would hate being third party in any way shape or form, getting themselves into my pocket permanently is an opportunity that they shouldn’t skip out on.

Picture if you will, transferring your eggs from Pokémon X and Y to your iPhone and having your real life steps go towards hatching your egg. Or perhaps you could upload your Smash Bros stats and compare on the go. I dunno, It’s not like I’m any good at coming up with ideas. But companion apps would make perfect sense for Nintendo to expand into, which is why they will definitely never do it.

Nintendo is disastrous at reading the market, they’ve said so themselves, but they are aware of the mobile scene. The biggest problem with Nintendo on mobile though is the concept of them developing on anything besides first party software.  So what’s the most likely version of this story? Nintendo to develop their own brand smart phone, which is still a Ludicrous thought to have seeing as the company would never want to draw attention away from their own specialised handheld device. Especially when the phone market is currently crushing their own device!

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So the conclusion to all this musing is an unfortunate shrug of ignorance. It’d be an exciting move on Nintendo’s part but in what form it’ll take, who knows. Obviously the boss man talked about advertising, so maybe we will see a Nintendo trailer app on the platform at some point. It’s difficult to tell with this company.



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